The World Well being Group chief warned Wednesday that the frenzy in rich international locations to roll out extra COVID vaccine doses was deepening the inequity in entry to jabs that’s prolonging the pandemic.
“No nation can enhance its approach out of the pandemic,” WHO Director-Normal Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated.
In the meantime, a brand new South African study, together with information on hospitalisations and deaths within the nation’s fourth wave of COVID infections, recommend that the chance of extreme illness is decrease with Omicron than with earlier variants, a high scientist has stated.
Britain has recorded 106,122 new day by day coronavirus infections, the best complete of the pandemic and the primary time the determine has topped 100,000.
In Nigeria, authorities have destroyed about a million expired doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine even because the West African nation’s vaccination price has nearly doubled within the final one week amid a spike in confirmed infections.
Listed here are the most recent updates:
EXPLAINER: Omicron – What we learn about signs
A brand new coronavirus (or SARS-CoV-2) variant, referred to as Omicron (or B.1.1.529), was first recognized by scientists in South Africa on November 24.
The most recent variant of the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness is believed to be extra transmissible than the already extremely transmissible Delta variant. Omicron has already been detected in 106 international locations, the WHO has stated.
Learn extra here.
Canada will briefly develop applications Omicron rise
Canada will briefly develop assist applications to assist folks and companies whose livelihoods are being hit by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated.
“We’re adapting our measures to be sure that nobody is left behind,” Trudeau instructed a televised briefing.
Ottawa stated in October it could wind down many helps in late October, citing the recovering economic system and the success of vaccination efforts.
Omicron complicates vacation journey plans throughout the US
Individuals are going through a second Christmas of upended vacation plans, with a surge in COVID-19 infections fueled by the now-dominant Omicron variant forcing some folks to cancel their journey and fret about whether or not it’s secure to go to family members.
Carmen Rivera and her fiancee Jasmine Maisonet made the painful determination to cancel their flights to go to household in Florida and Puerto Rico after Maisonet was uncovered to an contaminated co-worker and examined optimistic for COVID-19.
Learn extra here.
Biden says he was examined for virus, no outcomes but
US President Joe Biden stated he acquired one other COVID-19 check on Wednesday, 5 days after publicity to the virus from a member of his employees, however has not acquired the outcomes but.
Biden examined destructive for the virus three days after he was uncovered. The president made the feedback to reporters after public remarks throughout a gathering on the standing of the U.S. provide chain.
Pfizer oral COVID capsule will get US authorisation for at-home use
Pfizer Inc stated the US Meals and Drug Administration licensed its antiviral COVID-19 capsule, making it the primary at-home remedy for the coronavirus that’s anticipated to grow to be an essential instrument within the combat towards the quick spreading Omicron variant.
Knowledge from Pfizer’s medical trial confirmed its two-drug antiviral routine was 90 % efficient in stopping hospitalisations and deaths in sufferers at excessive danger of extreme sickness.
Blanket booster drives danger prolonging pandemic: WHO chief
The pinnacle of the World Well being Group warned that blanket booster applications in wealthy international locations danger prolonging the world’s battle with COVID-19 and stated that “no nation can enhance its approach out of the pandemic.”
WHO Director-Normal Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated the precedence should be to scale back deaths and assist all international locations meet minimal vaccination targets that many nonetheless haven’t reached.
Furthermore, he famous that “the overwhelming majority of hospitalisations and deaths are in unvaccinated folks, not unboosted folks”.
Italy experiences greater than 36,000 new circumstances
Italy reported 146 coronavirus-related deaths towards 153 on Tuesday, the well being ministry stated, whereas the day by day tally of latest infections rose to 36,293 from 30,798.
Italy has registered 136,077 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February final yr, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the ninth-highest on the planet. The nation has reported 5.5 million circumstances to this point.
Britain experiences document 106,122 new infections
The UK reported greater than 100,000 new day by day coronavirus circumstances for the primary time since widespread testing was launched, with 106,122 in contrast with 90,629 on Tuesday.
There have been 140 deaths inside 28 days of a optimistic case, down from 172 the day before today, in keeping with authorities information.
Too quickly to say if Omicron extra transmissible than Delta: WHO
The World Well being Group doesn’t but have sufficient information on the brand new Omicron variant of the coronavirus to say whether it is extra transmissible than the Delta variant, an official stated, nearly a month after South Africa first raised the alarm about its emergence.
“We do have some information suggesting that charges of hospitalisation are decrease,” WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove, stated in a briefing with media.
Advisor: Omicron doubles or triples an infection danger whereas flying
Plane passengers are twice and even 3 times extra prone to catch Covid-19 throughout a flight for the reason that emergence of the omicron variant, in keeping with the highest medical adviser to the world’s airways.
The brand new pressure is very transmissible and has grow to be dominant in a matter of weeks, accounting for greater than 70 % of all new circumstances within the US alone.
Learn extra here.
NHL says gamers is not going to take part in Beijing Winter Video games
The Nationwide Hockey League stated it is not going to ship its gamers to compete within the males’s ice hockey match on the Beijing Winter Olympics after the common season schedule was disrupted attributable to a surge in COVID-19 circumstances.
“Sadly, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule attributable to current COVID-related occasions – 50 video games have already got been postponed by way of December 23 – Olympic participation is now not possible,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated.
Britain to vaccinate weak youthful kids
Britain stated it could begin vaccinating weak kids aged 5 to 11 towards COVID-19 after the nation’s medicines regulator permitted using a decrease dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot in that age group.
The kids will obtain two 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – a 3rd of the grownup dose – with an interval of eight weeks between the primary and second doses, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) stated.
Nigeria destroys 1 million expired vaccine pictures
Authorities in Nigeria have publicly destroyed over a million expired doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine even because the West African nation’s vaccination price has nearly doubled within the final one week amid a spike in confirmed infections.
The expired doses – numbering 1,066,214 – have been destroyed in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, per week after the nation stated it can now not settle for donated COVID-19 vaccines with quick shelf lives.
Al Jazeera’s Fidelis Mbah reported from Abuja that the federal government’s very public show of destroying the vaccines was to guarantee residents no matter jabs have been administered, have been of “good high quality” – amid conspiracies and false info towards vaccines within the nation.
Rea extra here.
Until poor nations vaccinated, new variants will hold coming: Tutorial
Bharat Pankhania of the The College of Exeter Medical College instructed Al Jazeera THAT until poor nations are totally vaccinated, richer nations immunising their populations a number of instances is not going to cease variants rising.
“Once more, the richer nations can do no matter they like, as a result of they’ve bought the vaccines, provides, and so they can immunise their inhabitants as soon as, twice, thrice,” he stated from Tub, UK.
Nevertheless, he stated: “If you don’t suppress infections in weak international locations the place you’ve gotten a number of immune suppressed folks, then you’re going to get the drive for variants to emerge. And Omicron is one such instance. And we will positively get different variants which is able to once more be a setback.”
World’s kids bearing brunt of pandemic, Vatican research say
The world’s kids are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, with marked will increase in violence, abuse, baby labour, misplaced education, and malnutrition, two Vatican research stated on Wednesday.
The research, primarily based on tutorial, scientific, United Nations information and different supply materials, have been produced by the Vatican’s growth workplace and the Pontifical Academy for Life.
“Reviews of violence, abuse, and exploitation of kids have sharply elevated for the reason that pandemic started. Poorer communities disproportionately bear these adversities,” one of many research stated.
France cancels order for Merck’s antiviral drug
France has cancelled its order for Merck & Co’s COVID-19 antiviral drug following disappointing trial information and hopes as a substitute to obtain Pfizer’s competing drug earlier than the top of January, the well being minister stated.
France is the primary nation to publicly say it has cancelled an order for the Merck remedy after the corporate launched information in late November suggesting its drug was markedly much less efficient than beforehand thought, lowering hospitalisations and deaths in its medical trial of high-risk people by about 30 %.
“The most recent research weren’t good,” Olivier Veran instructed BFM TV.
Participant welfare not taken severely sufficient: Liverpool’s captain
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson stated participant welfare just isn’t being taken severely sufficient following the Premier League’s determination to proceed enjoying regardless of a surge in COVID-19 circumstances.
“I’m nervous about participant welfare and I don’t suppose anyone takes that severely sufficient, particularly on this interval, when COVID is right here,” Henderson instructed BBC Sport.
Liverpool assistant supervisor Pep Lijnders stated it was “absurd” to play twice in 4 days whereas lacking a variety of key gamers attributable to COVID-19 and accidents, whereas Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel stated gamers’ well being and security was in danger.
Gerrard says Villa participant ‘reluctant to get out of automotive’ attributable to virus fears
Aston Villa supervisor Steven Gerrard stated concern of the coronavirus is so heightened that one in every of his gamers was reluctant to get out of his automotive.
An outbreak at Villa noticed their match towards Burnley final Saturday postponed at quick discover, with Gerrard warning that it is going to be a “nightmare” if the Midlands membership should sort out two matches in two days with simply 14 gamers out there.
“We had a scenario on the weekend the place one of many gamers was reluctant to get out of his automotive as a result of he had some signs and he’s bought a younger household, and you’ll completely perceive his view in his scenario,” Gerrard stated.
Finland begins vaccinating kids aged 5-11
Finland will from Thursday begin providing coronavirus vaccines to kids between 5-11 years of age, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Well being stated.
The Finnish Well being Institute earlier this month really helpful that kids aged 5 and over ought to be vaccinated towards COVID-19 in the event that they or somebody of their family have been at excessive danger of extreme an infection.
Sweden to require destructive virus check for all foreigners on entry
All foreigners in search of to enter Sweden must current a destructive COVID-19 check taken inside 48 hours, the federal government stated as circumstances surged.
The requirement will come into power on December 28 and can apply to all non-citizens and non-residents over the age of 12, together with travellers from the European Union and neighbouring Nordic international locations.
“All travellers will want to have the ability to current a destructive check for an ongoing an infection of COVID-19 upon arrival to Sweden, no matter which nation you might be travelling from,” the federal government stated in an announcement.
South Africa’s examine suggests Omicron much less extreme than different variants
A brand new South African examine, together with information on hospitalisations and deaths within the nation’s fourth wave of COVID infections, recommend that the chance of extreme illness is decrease with Omicron than with earlier variants, a high scientist has stated.
“In South Africa, that is the epidemiology: Omicron is behaving in a approach that’s much less extreme,” stated Professor Cheryl Cohen of the Nationwide Institute for Communicable Illnesses (NICD), one of many authors of the brand new examine.
“Compellingly, collectively our information actually recommend a optimistic story of a lowered severity of Omicron in comparison with different variants,” she stated throughout a information convention by a bunch of NICD scientists.
Learn extra here.
Turkey’s home COVID-19 vaccine receives emergency use authorisation
Turkey’s domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, Turkovac, has acquired emergency use authorisation by Turkish authorities and will probably be open to make use of from subsequent weekend, Well being Minister Fahrettin Koca stated.
Turkey started growing Turkovac this yr, however the launch date for the vaccine has been beset by delays. President Tayyip Erdogan has stated Turkey would make the shot out there globally.
Turkey has already administered greater than 125 million doses of vaccines utilizing pictures developed by China’s Sinovac and by Pfizer/BioNTech, with greater than 51 million having acquired two doses of the vaccines. It has additionally begun administering booster pictures.
AstraZeneca, Oxford staff as much as develop Omicron-targeted vaccine
AstraZeneca is working with Oxford College to develop a greater coronavirus vaccine that can solely goal the Omicron variant.
“Along with Oxford College, we have now taken preliminary steps in producing an Omicron variant vaccine, in case it’s wanted, and will probably be knowledgeable by rising information,” stated the British-Swedish pharmaceutical in an announcement offered to native media.
Sandy Douglas, head of a analysis group at Oxford College, instructed The Monetary Instances that up to date vaccines are a should when coping with logistical challenges posed by the speedy unfold of variants corresponding to Omicron, and that they might assist alleviate pressures on healthcare companies and methods.
“Adenovirus-based vaccines (corresponding to made by Oxford/AstraZeneca’s) might in precept be used to answer any new variant extra quickly than some could beforehand have realised,” she stated.
China orders 13 million Xi’an residents to remain house over COVID outbreak
The northern Chinese language metropolis of Xi’an on Wednesday ordered all 13 million residents to remain house, in a strict lockdown as concern grows over a contemporary outbreak of COVID-19.
With Beijing making ready to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in February, China is on excessive alert because it fights native outbreaks in a number of cities.
All households could solely “ship one family member exterior as soon as each two days to buy requirements,” with all others ordered to stay indoors apart from emergencies, town authorities stated in an announcement on its official Weibo social media account.
Philippines halves COVID-19 booster wait time to 3 months
The Philippines has halved to 3 months the ready time for a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine in its battle to rein within the extra infectious Omicron variant of coronavirus, which has pressured a world tightening of curbs.
From Wednesday, adults can obtain a booster dose no less than three months after taking the second complement of a two-dose vaccine, versus six months earlier, appearing presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles stated.
Single-dose vaccine recipients are eligible for a booster after two months, he instructed a daily information convention.
Poland experiences highest variety of COVID-related deaths in fourth wave
Poland reported 775 COVID-related deaths on Friday, the best day by day quantity within the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the information from the well being ministry confirmed, with complete variety of infections for the reason that begin of the pandemic crossing 4 million.
Poland has been coping with persistently excessive day by day case numbers in a fourth wave that has pressured authorities to tighten restrictions.
“Sadly, (deaths) dominate among the many aged and the unvaccinated… we don’t get vaccinated and we go to hospitals too late,” ministry’s spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz instructed reporters.
Israel to supply fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose in bid to outpace Omicron
Israel has introduced it can provide a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to well being employees and folks older than 60, amid concern in regards to the unfold of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
A well being ministry skilled panel really helpful the fourth shot late on Tuesday, a choice that was swiftly welcomed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as “nice information that can assist us overcome the Omicron wave that’s spreading world wide”.
Learn extra here.
Japan confirms first identified native Omicron transmissions
Japan confirmed its first identified native transmissions of the brand new Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Osaka on Wednesday, an indication it’s already making its approach within the nation.
The household of three in Osaka had no document of touring abroad and their infections couldn’t be traced, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura stated.
The three are the primary identified circumstances of neighborhood transmission of the extremely infectious Omicron variant in Japan, Yoshimura stated. “I imagine they solely occurred to be detected and we should take steps on the idea that there already are different circumstances of neighborhood transmission,” he stated.
South Africa’s case drop could present Omicron peak has handed
South Africa’s noticeable drop in new COVID-19 circumstances in current days could sign that the nation’s dramatic Omicron-driven surge has handed its peak, medical consultants say.
After hitting a excessive of almost 27,000 new circumstances nationwide final Thursday, the numbers dropped to about 15,424 on Tuesday. In Gauteng province – South Africa’s most populous with 16 million folks, together with the most important metropolis, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria – the lower began earlier and has continued.
“The drop in new circumstances nationally mixed with the sustained drop in new circumstances seen right here in Gauteng province, which for weeks has been the middle of this wave, signifies that we’re previous the height,” Marta Nunes, senior researcher on the Vaccines and Infectious Illnesses Analytics division of the College of Witwatersrand, instructed The Related Press.
UK says 14 deaths and 129 hospitalised by Omicron
There are at present 129 folks in hospital with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and to this point 14 folks have died with it, junior well being minister Gillian Keegan instructed Sky Information.
She additionally stated the UK authorities wouldn’t hesitate to usher in additional COVID-19 restrictions if the information confirmed it was needed.
Finland goals to sort out rising COVID circumstances by curbing bars’ opening hours
Finland will limit eating places’ opening hours to curb rising COVID-19 infections and the unfold of the brand new Omicron variant, the federal government stated.
Beginning on Christmas eve, bars must cease serving alcohol at 9pm and shut at 10pm. From December 28 onwards, alcohol can solely be served till 5pm and bars want to shut by 6pm and eating places by 8pm, the federal government stated in an announcement.
The federal government additionally determined college and different grownup college students would shift to distant education after the Christmas holidays and overseas travellers coming to Finland would want a proof of vaccination or restoration from COVID-19 and a current destructive check end result.
France might quickly have 100,000 COVID circumstances a day
France might have round 100,000 new COVID-19 circumstances a day, well being minister Olivier Veran stated, up from round 70,000 at present because the nation battles a fifth wave of the epidemic.
Veran stated no new restrictions have been on the desk for now, though nothing might be dominated out, with authorities hoping a rise within the numbers of individuals having vaccinations will enable them to maintain the virus in test.
Malaysia suspends ticket gross sales for quarantine-free journey to Singapore
Malaysia has briefly suspended gross sales of tickets for air and land journey below a vaccinated journey lane scheme with Singapore till January 20, the well being ministry stated, amid considerations over the unfold of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
The motion adopted an analogous transfer by Singapore to freeze all new ticket gross sales over the identical interval.
Beneath the vaccinated journey lane programme, each international locations enable quarantine-free entry for totally vaccinated travellers, who should do a number of screenings.
California says well being care employees should get booster pictures
California well being care employees will probably be required to have coronavirus booster pictures to make sure that hospitals are able to take care of a surge in circumstances because the more-transmissible Omicron variant spreads all through the state.
Governor Gavin Newsom introduced the order on Tuesday on his private Twitter account and deliberate to offer extra particulars at a Wednesday information convention.
California already requires well being care employees to be vaccinated towards the coronavirus, a directive that took impact in September and has since led to the firing or suspension of hundreds of individuals. Now it can be a part of New Mexico as no less than the second state to require booster pictures for well being care employees.
Australia PM meets with state leaders as virus circumstances surge
New COVID-19 circumstances in Australia’s most populous state surged to a pandemic document on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with state leaders to debate preventive measures.
Morrison emerged from the nationwide cupboard assembly once more rejecting lockdowns and masks mandates imposed by the federal authorities. He stated insurance policies on mask-wearing have been finest left to state governments and to Australians who ought to comply with “commonsense behavioural measures.”
“Regardless of these rising circumstances, hospitals and well being methods stay in a powerful place however after all, they are going to be examined,” Morrison instructed reporters in Canberra after the emergency assembly.
Singapore suspends quarantine-free journey ticket gross sales
Singapore has stated it can freeze all new ticket gross sales for flights and buses below its programme for quarantine-free journey into the city-state from December 23 to January 20, the federal government stated, citing the chance from the fast-spreading Omicron.
“Our border measures will assist to purchase us time to review and perceive the Omicron variant, and to strengthen our defences, together with enhancing our healthcare capability, and getting extra folks vaccinated and boosted,” Singapore’s well being ministry stated in an announcement.
Beneath the vaccinated journey lane programme, Singapore permits quarantine-free entry for totally vaccinated travellers, who should take a number of COVID-19 exams.
About two dozen international locations are listed within the programme together with Australia, India, Malaysia, Britain and the US.
Travellers already holding tickets on flights or buses and who meet all different necessities can nonetheless journey below the programme.
Singapore has confirmed imported Omicron circumstances and a number of other native infections.